Has she spoken in the past 15 minutes, bro?
The other day, I accidentally went on a date with a guy. What I mean by that is, a guy asked me to go out to eat with him and I didn’t realize he thought it was a date.
Much like with most other dates I’ve gone on in this manner, it was not impressive. Had I know he was asking me out, I would have said no. But, no, I was an idiot.
There I was, stuck in a restaurant, with a guy who had one of the worst habits you can have when single: he talked at me instead of to me. And he did so in a voice loud enough that people had turned to give me pitying looks.
One thing that I’ve learned through the years is that most people who are perennially single don’t know the difference between talking at someone and talking to someone. When a date ends and they never get a callback, they’re often confused because they thought it “went so well.”
Please take note, folks. If you’re doing any of these things, you’re not talking to a person — you’re talking at them and should probably learn how to talk to people.
1. Most of the conversation is about you.
We get it. You want to sell a person on what you can offer them. Or, in some cases, you just walk to talk and vent about things. The problem is that this makes you look really self-centered most of the time. Moreover, hearing someone talk about how awesome they are and how girls didn’t give them a chance isn’t really charming... or interesting.
2. Her eyes drift elsewhere, a lot.
Is she looking at the menu more than at you? Do her eyes follow the waiter in a “help me” manner? If so, you’re talking at her and she’s bored. Stop talking, and start asking questions that she may want to be interested in. If you do that, you might just save yourself from being bailed on.
3. All she’s done in the past 5 minutes is smile and nod.
In an actual conversation, you will hear her talk to you and ask you questions. You will hear her talk about her own interests, too. If she hasn’t said much of anything in the past 5 minutes, it’s almost certain that you’re talking at her rather than to her.
4. You’re lecturing her about something.
Though there are some exceptions to this rule, my general rule of thumb to follow is that dates shouldn’t sound like seminars. If she wanted to hear someone lecture her, she’d have signed up for a community college class. Oh, and if you have gone so far as to start lecturing her about her needs, you’re definitely talking at her and she’s definitely not going to call you back.
5. Other people are turning to look at you as you talk to her.
Seriously, use some self-awareness! Look around you and look at the way she’s acting. If she looks bored or hasn’t spoken for a while, she’s not having a good time. If other people are exchanging glances and then looking at you while you talk, you’re probably acting like a loudmouth and they’re probably feeling sorry for the poor girl.
6. You haven’t learned five things about her in the past couple of hours.
If you have been sitting there and talking to her for an hour, you should have learned plenty about her. If you can’t really rattle off much about her, you talked at her that entire time.
7. You’re hearing but not listening.
Yes, you heard her say her favorite band, but did you ask her what her favorite song is or why? Listening means you actually take in what she says. People who talk at people tend to not do that.
8. If you were honest with yourself, you really aren’t interested in her as a person.
Here’s the very blunt truth that people who talk at others don’t want to admit. If you’re talking at a person, you don’t really care about them, per se. What you care about is the validation you receive from having them listen to you and having someone who is just there to do what you expect them to do.
In these cases, it’s not about a connection that you want to have with this person, it’s about using them as an ego boost.
If you did self-searching, what would your reason for talking to them be? Are you really listening to what they want or are you just more interested in getting what you want out of them? More often than not, what you really want can tell you a lot about whether you’re talking to them or at them.